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Top 10 Dance Performances on Dancing with the Stars

VO: Emily Brayton
Script written by Nick Spake These are the best dances on Dancing with the Stars! We’ve included dances such as Toxic by Rumer Willis & Valentin Chmerkovskiy, “Footprints in the Sand” (2008) by Bindi Irwin &Derek Hough, “Assassin's Tango” (2005) by Gilles Marini & Cheryl Burke, “Living on Video” (1983) by Joanna Krupa & Derek Hough, “DanzaKuduro” (2010) by Paige VanZant&Mark Ballas, “You Don’t Own Me” (1963) by James Hinchcliffe& Jenna Johnson and “Latch” (2012) by Meryl Davis &Maksim Chmerkovskiy.
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Top 10 Dance Performances on Dancing with the Stars


Hey, I remember that celebrity! Who knew they could dance? Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Dance Performances on Dancing with the Stars.

For this list, we’re taking a look at the most memorable routines from this long-running dance competition show.

#10: “Toxic” (2015)
Rumer Willis & Val Chmerkovskiy


Being the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Rumer Willis has talent in spades. In 2015, She not only made her Broadway debut as Roxie Hart in "Chicago,” but also won Season 20 of “Dancing with the Stars” with Val Chmerkovskiy. (xref) In addition to their sensational rumba routine during Week 8, this performance virtually guaranteed their inevitable victory. Draped in zealous lighting, their freestyle dance is slow and sexy while also being fast-paced and feisty. Willis and Chmerkovskiy move with such pitch perfect speed and timing that you’d swear they were animated characters brought to life. In short, this routine is simply intoxicating.

#9: “Footprints in the Sand” (2015)
Bindi Irwin & Derek Hough


Bindi Irwin made a splash with partner Derek Hough throughout Season 21, not only winning the top prize that year, but also breaking the record for the most perfect scores with a total of 8. One particular performance that received 10s across the board was a freestyle set to “Footprints in the Sand.” The song selection and Emmy-nominated choreography flow together marvelously, as Irwin and Hough move with the lively freedom of two angelic creatures frolicking on a beach. There wasn’t a single dry eye as the performance concluded with an image of the late Steve Irwin and his young daughter, leaving behind a footprint on our hearts that’ll never wash away.

#8: “Assassin's Tango” (2009)
Gilles Marini & Cheryl Burke


Marini and Burke might’ve been Season 8’s runners-up, but they arguably gave the single best performance that whole year. The partners earned a perfect score during Week 4 for a spellbinding Argentine tango. Overflowing with zesty tension and a dreamlike ambiance, this routine is like something out of a juicy telenovela. As the dance goes on, the duo’s footwork only becomes sharper and crisper, amounting to an invigorating finale that resulted in uproarious applause. Whether you were in the auditorium or watching from home, every viewer felt as if they had just been swept off their feet.

#7: “Living on Video” (2009)

Joanna Krupa & Derek Hough

Although this duo only came in 4th place during Season 9, their Futuristic Paso Doble earned one of the highest averages that year. Fans even voted it as one of the show’s ten best performances ever. Complete with inventive costumes and tight choreography, this routine stood out for its creativeness above all else. Set to “Living on Video,” the dance combines retro 80s vibes with a high-tech atmosphere. If Lady Gaga and Daft Punk collaborated on a music video, the outcome would likely resemble this. Krupa and Hough move like robots that were programmed with all the right dance steps. At the same time, however, they lit up the stage with passion, glitz, and life.

#6: “Cell Block Tango” (2016)
Laurie Hernandez & Val Chmerkovskiy

Partnered with Val Chmerkovskiy, Laurie Hernandez remains the youngest winner in the show’s history. The two delivered several performances that received perfect scores, a highlight being their rendition of “Cell Block Tango” from “Chicago.” Much like the song, the choreography here is intense in every sense of the word, leaving the audience on edge at all times. Watching these two clash, we’re never sure it Hernandez is going to plant one on Chmerkovskiy’s lips or bite off his tongue. All we know for sure is that somebody is going to be left breathless by the routine’s conclusion. Thanks to Hernandez’s artistic gymnast gifts and Chmerkovskiy’s seasoned dancing skills, it’s a performance well worthy of Broadway.

#5: “Danza Kuduro” (2016)

Paige VanZant & Mark Ballas

Runners-up Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas impressed early on in Season 22, turning in a steamy salsa during the second week. This performance has the flare of a Super Bowl halftime show, complete with multi-colored fog that pops out at theaudience. Despite all the razzle-dazzle on display, everyone’s eyes remained fixed on our two sizzling contestants, particularly VanZant. Although she’s best known for her mixed martial arts background, VanZant has also studied a wide variety of different dance styles. Her range as a dancer truly paid off here, as she demonstrated the grace of a ballerina, the pep of a cheerleader, and the energy of a hip-hop artist all rolled into one spicy package.

#4: “It's Not Unusual” (2014)

Alfonso Ribeiro & Witney Carson

When it was announced that Alfonso Ribeiro would be a contestant in Season 19, we all knew that Tom Jones had to enter the equation eventually. Carlton and dance partner Witney Carson didn’t disappoint. As the performance begins, it feels as if the audience is watching a rerun of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Sitting on a couch in a mansion, Ribeiro tries to get closer to Carson. Their flirty routine takes them out of the living room and onto the dance floor where they dish up a few familiar moves, as well as some new ones. Receiving a perfect score, this dance brought Ribeiro and Carson one step closer to becoming the season’s winners.

#3: “You Don’t Own Me” (2016)
James Hinchcliffe & Jenna Johnson

Following an injury, Jenna Johnson stepped in for Sharna Burgess to perform with James Hinchcliffe. For this special Halloween routine, Hinchcliffe sports a Joker costume while Johnson channels Harley Quinn. After snapping a few necks, the Clown Prince of Crime frees his girlfriend from prison and the two take off into the night. Thus ensues a demented dance that captures the phenomenon of mad love. Their waltz is deranged, hypnotic, and strangely alluring, which is exactly what we’d expect from this colorful couple. In true Joker fashion, the performance even builds up to a literal punch line where they knock out the guards. Good thing Batman didn’t show up and ruin date night.

#2: “The Sound of Silence” (2016)
Nyle DiMarco & Peta Murgatroyd


Nyle DiMarco stands out at the first deaf person to win “Dancing with the Stars.” With that in mind, “The Sound of Silence” was a fitting song to accompany this routine with Peta Murgatroyd. Staying in tune with the poignant music, the choreography is full of anguish and perseverance, almost as if DiMarco and Murgatroyd are expressing the struggle of being deaf through interpretive dance. They come off like two people that are trying to say what’s on their minds, but can’t get the words out. So they need to dance their hearts out in order to unleash these bottled up emotions. Like a piano on fire, this performance is both haunting and beautiful simultaneously.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

“Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” (2006)
Drew Lachey & Cheryl Burke

“I Have Nothing” (2016)
Ginger Zee & Val Chmerkovskiy

“The Lady in Red” (2010)
Nicole Scherzinger & Derek Hough

#1: “Latch” (2014)
Meryl Davis & Maksim Chmerkovskiy


“Dancing with the Stars” has given us some emotional performances over the years, but this routine touched audiences in ways they had never experienced before. Meryl Davis’ ice dancing background shines through in this bold, revealing, and passionate routine alongside Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Wearing ensembles that leave little to the imagination, these two dominate the dance floor with natural chemistry. Aside from being stimulating and romantic, Davis and Chmerkovskiy managed to do something almost transcendent. Their freestyle performance is like watching two souls merge together as one, proving how moving, intimate, and artistic dance can be. Following what could’ve been mistaken for a roll in the sack, they pretty much had first place in the bag.
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